Here's some nice pictures of the President of Kazakhstan. He used to be the leader of the Communist party when the USSR was around and really didn't want to split from the Russians until Gorbachov forced his hand. He's now led Kazakhstan ever since 'independence' and thanks to the enormous amount of gas and oil here has managed to create an extremely rich elite and a growing upper middle class (as well as somehow making himself very comfortable).
His picture is everywhere, with children, with gas pipelines, with outrageous city developments. This is all despite the fact that up to 20% of the population live below the poverty line and are really subsistence farmers. His daughter is being groomed to be the new president in a dynastic line reminiscent of Bush or the Kennedy's and has combined her own political party with that of her father.
Elections here are corrupt and denounced by international election observers, and Nazarbaev's political opponents are found shot, or end up locked up in prison during election years and with Nazarbaev controlling the media they don't have much chance to start with. For the moment Kazakh's are quite pragmatic about him, while the country is developing they seem prepared to put up with him. He does have some good ideas, but why doesn't he just give back all the money he's 'stolen' and step down from government? Does he think he's the only Kazakh who could run the country? Maybe he is?
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